Judgments About Moral Responsibility and Determinism in Patients with Behavioural Variant of Frontotemporal Dementia: Still Compatibilists

Posted: 11 Oct 2017

See all articles by Sacha Bourgeois-Gironde

Sacha Bourgeois-Gironde

École Normale Supérieure (ENS); Université Paris II

Date Written: October 2017

Abstract

Do laypeople think that moral responsibility is compatible with determinism? Recently, philosophers and psychologists trying to answer this question have found contradictory results: while some experiments reveal people to have compatibilist intuitions, others suggest that people could in fact be incompatibilist. To account for this contradictory answers, Nichols and Knobe (2007) have advanced a ‘performance error model’ according to which people are genuine incompatibilist that are sometimes biased to give compatibilist answers by emotional reactions. To test for this hypothesis, we investigated intuitions about determinism and moral responsibility in patients suffering from behavioural frontotemporal dementia. Patients suffering from bvFTD have impoverished emotional reaction. Thus, the ‘performance error model’ should predict that bvFTD patients will give less compatibilist answers. However, we found that bvFTD patients give answers quite similar to subjects in control group and were mostly compatibilist. Thus, we conclude that the ‘performance error model’ should be abandoned in favour of other available model that best fit our data.

Keywords: Experimental Philosophy, Free Will, Moral Responsibility, Frontotemporal Dementia, Emotions, Punishment

JEL Classification: D91

Suggested Citation

Bourgeois-Gironde, Sacha, Judgments About Moral Responsibility and Determinism in Patients with Behavioural Variant of Frontotemporal Dementia: Still Compatibilists (October 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3050700

Sacha Bourgeois-Gironde (Contact Author)

École Normale Supérieure (ENS) ( email )

45 rue d’Ulm
Paris Cedex 05, F-75230
France

Université Paris II ( email )

12 place du Pantheon
Paris cedex 06, 75231
France

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